The latter part of today rescued me from one of my periodic fits of gloom about living here - gloom usually brought on, it has to be said, by damp gloomy weather. It didn't begin that way - maybe that was the worst bit: there was some sun shining when I arrived at the supermarket before 8.30am, though there was threatening cloud above the hills. But I got the messages in, all five bags of them, before there was any rain, and it dried up for a bit, a time during which I did practically nothing of any use whatsoever. It's as if the weekly shop so drains my batteries that I'm no good for anything else.
I did, however, drag myself out of any post-lunch stupor to go for a walk before I stiffened up completely - it was as if the relatively strenuous walk yesterday required pay-back when I sat around. We looked out of our different windows (where looks more promising: north or south?) and chose Loch Eck, to the north, despite its being swathed in cloud. In fact, as we left the car, it was raining gently, although it went off quite soon. Not soon enough, however, to prevent my moaning about always having to wear a waterproof, not having anywhere new to go, there being nothing to make a walk attractive ... that sort of thing.
But as we turned round at the water treatment site, where our tap water is rendered harmless, we realise that there were growing patches of blue in the sky. A sudden movement in a tree near the track turned out to be a red squirrel, of which we've seen far fewer this year. The burns looked suddenly attractive as they purled along, instead of merely wet, and the sudden swathes of wild garlic under the trees gleamed bright green in the shadows. By the time we were out of the trees and heading back beside the fields Loch Eck was absolutely still and unruffled, so that the reflections were sharply dramatic (main photo) and I was beginning to enjoy myself. When we turned down the side of the Benmore Gardens admin building, walking towards the river, I saw the familiar view of the houses and admin buildings, with the hills on the far side of the glen, and realised it reminded me of childhood holidays on Arran (first extra). A Great Tit squeaked like a rusty gate, and an enormous lorry passed loaded high with logs and hauling a similarly loaded trailer, the driver waving to us as we stepped smartly off the road which it completely filled.
A final joy came as we climbed into our car. No sooner had I closed the door than there was a peremptory tap on the window beside me. So my second extra is of the culprit, a chaffinch sitting as bold as you like on my rear view mirror. And I decided it's not so bad being here after all.
On the way home I phoned our youngest grandchild, who's off to Germany tomorrow with a school group. They're staying in a youth hostel, but she wasn't sure where ... but she does speak some German. Meanwhile her big sister made only one mistake in her S4 national Spanish exam oral and sent us a gleeful text. Not being nearer them all is actually worse than the rain. But let's hear it for that chaffinch...